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The No. 1 Thing Women Really Want in a Partner, According to Science

Research shows that this is what gets women to swipe right.

If you're single you already know: it's rough out there in today's dating market. For one thing, dating apps provide an endless stream of potential partners to choose from, which research shows only makes the selection and matching process harder. On top of this, you're contending with more timeless dating woes including questionable chemistry, mysterious motives, and baggage on both sides. Given that many men also report feeling generally mystified by what women want in a partner, it's a wonder anyone gets together in the end.

Thankfully, a new study has shed some light on the question of what women want, and demystifying it may just help some people couple up. The study, published in Science Advances analyzed data from online dating exchanges and determined that in the hierarchy of desirable qualities, being highly educated was considered the most attractive quality in men.

"Desirability is associated with education most strongly for men, for whom more education is always more desirable," the researchers explained. Those with higher degrees had higher message rates from online daters, and tended to interact more with women who were themselves considered "highly desirable."

As one article in The New York Times corroborates, marriage rates have been on the decline among men without college degrees. "For men without higher education, dwindling prospects in the labor market have made a growing percentage either unwilling to marry or unable to find someone to marry them," the authors wrote. They suggested that as women themselves attain higher levels of education, they're more interested in "a mate with more education and hence better financial prospects."

That said, if you don't happen to hold a degree, don't despair: there are several more subjective qualities which women tend to rank as highly important in a potential partner, but are less likely to be included in this type of ranking. This means you may very well attract a partner with your wit, charm, or warmth—especially IRL, where she can get to know the person behind the profile. Read on for more qualities that women find most attractive, and for more on dating, check out You're Most Attractive to This Type of Person.


Happy couple doing dishes together

If there's one thing research shows women really want in a partner, it's kindness. In fact, one international survey that polled over 14,000 people across 45 countries found that this was considered the single most important quality in a potential mate. And to spread a little kindness today, check out these 33 Little Acts of Kindness You Can Do That Are Totally Free.


man at work smiling in thick eyeglasses, ways to feel amazing

Intelligence and education are often intertwined, but they're not the same thing—and research shows that many women value intelligence in a man regardless of whether there's a degree to confer it. There are plenty of bright and curious people without top tier degrees, so be sure to share your other passions and accomplishments with pride.


Smiling mid adult man surprising his girlfriend with a gift she is opening on a romantic date.

You can't exactly put your generosity in your online dating profile, but if you demonstrate this desirable quality in person, research shows that women will notice. An August study from Indiana University found that this tends to create a "halo effect" that increases a man's overall attractiveness. And for more on this study, check out The Easiest Way To Make Yourself More Attractive, According to Experts.


Confident man and woman smiling

While cockiness is likely to ultimately put women off, demonstrating confidence helps others buy in and see you through a rosier lens. Show off your best qualities while also taking ownership for your quirks or shortcomings—or in other words, just be yourself. Do that, and your odds of finding the right fit should multiply.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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